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Strong solar flare to strike Earth Thursday could cause problems

NASA image showing the sunspot group that launched the solar flare Tuesday.

NASA image showing the sunspot group that launched the solar flare Tuesday.

The first major solar flare of 2014 could actually force some airlines to re-route flights due to the higher doses of radiation in the upper atmosphere.

A shipment to the International Space Station also had to be delayed.

The Associated Press said

Federal space weather forecaster Joe Kunches said the sun shot out a strong solar flare late Tuesday, which should arrive at Earth early Thursday. It should shake up Earth’s magnetic field and expand the aurora borealis south, possibly as far south as Colorado and central Illinois. He said best viewing would probably be Thursday evening, weather permitting.”

The flares travel thousands of miles a second and could cause the Northern Lights to stretch southward to Colorado and Illinois Thursday morning around 4:00am EST.

Here is the alert NASA posted on Space Weather.gov

Space Weather Message Code: ALTPX3
Serial Number: 27
Issue Time: 2014 Jan 08 2334 UTC
ALERT: Proton Event 10MeV Integral Flux exceeded 1000pfu
Begin Time: 2014 Jan 08 2320 UTC
NOAA Scale: S3 – Strong
Potential Impacts: Radiation – Passengers and crew in high latitude, high altitude flights may experience increasing radiation exposures. Astronauts on EVA (extra-vehicular activity) are exposed to elevated radiation levels.
Spacecraft – Single-event upsets to satellite operations, noise in imaging systems, and slight reduction of efficiency in solar panels are likely.
Radio – Degraded or episodically blacked-out polar HF (high frequency) radio propagation.

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